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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

PhilHealth leaders commit to comply with Speaker’s call

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Officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Wednesday gave their commitment to comply with the call of Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez to enhance their services and benefit packages for patients.

“We are one we are one with Speaker Martin when he says we have to aggressively and continuously increase the case packages of PhilHealth across the board,” PhilHealth President and CEO Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. said during the hearing of the House Committee on Health, held upon the Speaker’s directive.

As part of PhiHealth’s prime mandate, Ledesma said they would have to increase the benefit packages to make things easier for the Filipino people to avail of healthcare services. The less out of pocket, the better for the country and the better for the health system of the country, he added.

On Tuesday, Romualdez issued a directive for the House to review PhilHealth’s charter to expand patient’s benefits, including early detection of cancer, and provide a more comprehensive healthcare coverage for Filipino patients.

Specifically, the Speaker sought an increase in benefits to cover at least 50 percent of costs in private hospital wards and the provision of free examinations for the early detection of deadly diseases, such as cancer.

PhilHealth’s Vice President Eli Santos echoed Ledesma’s statement.

“Mr. Chairperson, honorable members of the committee, with the leadership of our President and Chief Executive Officer, Emmanuel Ledesma, Jr., Philhealth, we will be able to fulfill and comply with the directive of our Honorable Speaker Martin Romualdez,” he said.

Santos said PhilHealth fully supports the Speaker’s directive for a review of their charter to expand patient benefits, including early cancer detection, and to explore ways to provide more comprehensive health care coverage.

“We submit to the directive of our Honorable Speaker and the Committee to focus our resources in safeguarding the health of the populace,” he added.

Santos said PhilHealth also agrees that the review of their charter should also probe the agency’s investment strategies to ensure its funds are utilized in ways that directly benefit the health and well-being of the Filipino people.

While PhilHealth is increasing by as much as 30 percent the coverage rate of most of its benefit packages, Ledesma said effective Feb. 14, additional increases are warranted.

“The 30 percent was just a start, and we would really move forward,” Ledesma said.

For instance, he said PhilHealth’s benefit committee has recently approved the enhancement of the “Z Benefit” for breast cancer, which would be effective in March.

Ledesma said that after 13 years without changes, PhilHealth recently enhanced several patient benefit packages, such as for high-risk pneumonia, from P32,000 to P90,100, or a 182% increase; acute stroke ischemia from P28,000 to P76,000 pesos, a 171% increase; and acute stroke hemorrhagic from P30,0000 to P80,000 pesos, a 111% increase.

He said the Z Benefits package for colon and rectal cancers were also enhanced, allowing patients with metachronous colorectal tumor to re-avail of the package for colon and rectal cancer.

Ledesma said PhilHealth also revised the policy on select orthopedic implants, which allowed beneficiaries to avail of a maximum of two Z benefit packages, regardless of laterality for procedures that were done on different dates, or on the same day, within the same confinement period by patients with single or multiple injuries that requires more than one implant.

In addition, he said the package rate for select orthopedic implants were increased to respond to the increasing costs of orthopedic implant devices and minimize delay in surgeries.

In seeking a review of PhilHealth’s charter, Speaker Romualdez also said it should function akin to a health maintenance organization (HMO), focusing its resources on safeguarding the health of the populace rather than investing in commercial banks and bonds.

Romualdez said that with substantial annual allocations from Congress and regular contributions from private employees, there is no excuse for PhilHealth to scrimp on coverage.


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